Worse case scenario

Terminated Fiji Airways flight attendants, Sereana Vatubua (left) with Oriva Smith and Saufa’asi Marr during an interview in Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

IF Fiji Airways staff members were struggling before, the situation will be even worse now.

This was the word from Fiji Flight Attendants Trade Union president Josaia McGowan in the wake of an announcement on Monday that the national carrier had terminated more than 758 staff, including 435 cabin crew.

“We have mums and dads with families and they all have financial commitments –– mortgages, rent, car payments, hire purchase payments and on top of all that, they have to put food on the table,” he said.

“The sudden decision by Fiji Airways to mass terminate staff without proper consultation and notice just means that as of today (yesterday) all these mums and dads will be wondering what next? Will they be able to hold on to their homes? How will they feed their families?

“They were struggling before this decision was made, so you can imagine how much worse things will be now.”

Fiji Airways managing director and CEO Andre Viljoen said when the first flight suspensions were announced in March, 2020, the airline implemented a series of actions aimed at tiding it through the April to June period, in the hope the crisis would abate and some level of demand would return.

“Most of our workforce agreed to a temporary 30-35 per cent pay reduction,” he said.

“However, regrettably, all of our international passenger services remain suspended, and it is simply not sustainable to continue to pay staff who are at home and not working, even at reduced salary levels.

“We have a responsibility to our shareholders, and to the Fijian people, to ensure that Fiji Airways survives this crisis.”

Of the 435 cabin crew members in Fiji Airways, 407 are members of the union.

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